Much is being made of John McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin. She's a woman, for a start. The Democrats had Hillary, the Republicans have Sarah. But who is she really?
There's no doubt McCain chose Palin in part due to her potential to rally Christian conservatives behind his campaign. Palin describes herself in an interview as a 'Bible-believing' Christian (whatever that means). As such, she supports allowing the discussion of creationism in public schools (but says it does not have to be part of the curriculum). She opposes same-sex marriage and supported a non-binding referendum for an Alaskan constitutional amendment to deny state health benefits to same-sex couples.
She's a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association.
She supports capital punishment.
Palin claims she is 'as pro-life as any candidate can be' and has called abortion an 'atrocity'. She believes that abortion should be banned in nearly all cases, including rape and incest, except if the life of the mother is endangered. She has said she would support a constitutional amendment to that effect.
On the environment, Palin has promoted oil and natural gas resource exploration in Alaska, including in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In addition, Palin has sued the Bush administration to delist polar bears under the Endangered Species Act because the protection of polar bears interferes with drilling for oil and gas. In 2007, Palin supported the Alaska Department of Fish and Game policy allowing the hunting of wolves from helicopters as part of a predator control program intended to increase moose populations. Palin's office announced that a bounty of $150 per wolf would be paid to the 180 volunteer pilots and gunners, to offset fuel costs.
As for Native Rights? Perhaps no issue is of greater importance to Alaska Native peoples as the right to hunt and fish according to ancient customary and traditional practices, and to carry on the subsistence way of life for future generations. Palin has consistently opposed those rights in order to expand sport and commercial fishing. She has also attacked Alaska Tribal Sovereignty and Native languages, refusing to provide language assistance to Yup'ik speaking Alaska Native people.
Regarding foreign policy, Palin supports pre-emptive military action in the face of an imminent threat, and supports US military operations in Pakistan. She declined to give a 'yes' or 'no' answer regarding whether US military forces should make cross-border attacks into Pakistan without the approval of the Pakistani government.
Nice, eh? And Palin is, potentially, a heartbeat away from becoming US President.
Difficult to know whether to laugh or cry...